Thursday, May 29, 2008

Red Pepper Jam

- 12 large red peppers, washed, seeds and cores removed
- 2 tblspns coarse salt
- 1.5 cups cider vinegar
- 0.5 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 lemon, quartered


Pass peppers through food processor, then pour into a bowl and sprinkle in salt. Let stand for 4 hours.

Drain peppers well through a strainer (let drip for about 2 or 3 minutes). Place pulp in a pot with water, vinegar, and lemon. Simmer 20 minutes, then remove lemon.

Mix in sugar, and boil for approx 1 hour, until it thickens.

In the meantime, sterilize your jars: wash and dry jars, and place in an oven at 225 degrees farenheit for 30 minutes. Boil lids and caps for 10 minutes.
Pour jam into sterilized jars and seal.
Make sure there's no jam on the rim, so wipe away quickly in case of spillage. (This may be easier with 2 people - one person jarring, the other capping.)
I got this recipe from a friend of mine - she had served this jam over a brick of cream cheese, to spread on crackers, which tasted awesome. Tasting it, I would've never thought it was red peppers, because it tasted so sweet, it was almost like strawberries.
This was my first attempt at making preserves - I actually doubled the recipe, which is what you see pictured above. Same thing, just doubled. I ended up with 5 half-liter jars + 3 small jars + a teeny bit left over. The half liter jars will make good xmas gives come the holidays for the neighbors and friends. My mom and I made it together yesterday, and my brother and husband helped in putting it all into jars.
Now that I know how to make this recipe, and I know how it'll turn out, I'd make a couple changes for the next time I make it: I'd replace a quarter cup of the cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar, which I think would improve the taste, and I'd also add some Certo to thicken the jam a bit. Maybe even add a couple hot peppers in the mix, to spice it up a bit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

turning 30 soon.... yikes!

Well, that birthday is coming up soon. The big three-oh. As of Saturday. Yeesh.

I've never really been that worried or excited about a birthday before, it's always been just-another-birthday. But, for some reason, turning 30 is just eerie.
It's funny how I didn't realize I was turning 30 until the beginning of this year - like it actually had time to sit in. Not that I forgot how old I was or anything, but it just kicked in.
I'm bouncing back and forth between two lines of thinking: a part of me is disappointed that I didn't manage to accomplish what I wanted to by this point, but a part of me also appreciates not only what I've accomplished so far, but also that my 20's will finally be done with. I'm pretty much set in my ways, I've a better perspective on adulthood, and I've got a good foundation.
But, I still feel a bit bad of not being able to follow the life plan that I once had. Things I wanted to accomplish by now, so that the things I wanted to do in my 30's could come into fruition. It's almost like I'm 10 years behind in what I've always wanted to do.
Oh well. Maybe I can just condense 20 years worth of goals within 10? That's totally possible, right? The plan just needs a bit of tweeking.
On to a new decade. Yikes. This better be a long rest-of-the-week.

Friday, May 23, 2008

good friday things

A good find and a few fun things arrived in the mail this week... Firstly, today's mail sent me these great stitch markers, from the Black Yarn Swap's Stitch Marker Swap that I organized on ravelry (pictured left), plus I also received my knitpicks order for sock yarn, cuz I want to make these cool flame socks with it.

I also found this cute little book the other day at the mall, Knitted Icons, which I can't wait to start knitting from! How cute is this? And it'd make neat little stocking stuffers come the holidays!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

baked sushi

Remember when I found those sushi cupcakes on craftster? Well, I finally got around to making them! Here they are:
My mom - who's over from France for 3 weeks - and I made them today, since it was too cool outside to really do anything. They turned out really good, and there's even too many to decorate. We put together 3 boxes all together to give out as gifts, the rest are undecorated and waiting to be eaten.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

2 fo's projects

I just finished these pedicure socks for my mom:

And here is a pic of the noro fingerless gloves I mentioned the other day:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Christmas in... May?

I've got a head start, for the first time in - well, ever.

Every year, as December holidays approach, I scramble to get things ready. I never have anything knit on time, or at least not in the quantity that I'd like.

So, this year, I've already started. Despite the fact that my hubby's family hasn't been entirely keen on handknit gifts so far, I've decided to give it one last try by knitting everyone gloves and mittens. Hopefully it's universal enough that the recipients will enjoy them.

I've already gotten 1 pair done, ideally I can get at least a dozen finished before December rolling around. Talk about a major destashing project!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

shrugging it off

I forgot to post my completed shrug, from the noro kureyon yarn that I bought a while back:
It's this simple shrug pattern. I've made a couple very minor adjustments, as I always tend to do, but 99% accurate to the pattern.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

in excess

A top view of the 10 sets of stitch markers I finished the other day, dangling fom a stitch holder:
I also bought yarn today. I shouldn't have. But I did. I'm convinced that I need it.

I'm still in a transitional stage: I've closed my ebay store a few months ago, because I was spending more money keeping it open than what I was selling, it really wasn't worth it. Ebay fees are increasing, and IMO it's not the same site that it used to be. It's gone much too competative, and it sucks for those of us who are trying to run a business.

But anyway.

I'm still wanting to set up my own website, but as I look further into it, having my own site (like if I go through yahoo or something) I'm spending as much if not more than what ebay charges monthly. Bleh. I've managed to move a few items through etsy, but not a lot of people are familiar with it, plus everything is in US prices w/o giving the option for Canadian pricing. Tricky tricky.

I've got so much yarn that I need to sell, and I don't want to use it for personal use because it's my business's inventory. So, I'm buying yarn. At retail cost. Bleh again. But, I'm rationalizing it, because I really want to get myself more active in design, assuming I get published. I hope I do, it'd be a really great direction to get into.

But, I'll digress for today.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

vocab vent

I wanted to vent/knitpick about terminology. I *loathe* when people refer to what I do as *crafts*. I knit and design for a living. This is my job. If you can't see it as art, then at least say that I'm *creative*. Not crafty. That's all I'm saying.

Whenever I hear the word 'craft' or the term 'crafty', the only thing that comes to mind is what young gradeschool children make from pipecleaners and construction paper during art class. But for something that's decorative, functional, or requires some sort of skill, that goes above and beyond 'crafty'. Even if it's not the most beautiful thing or even your style, it's at the very least a good labour of love and creative, if not art.

I suppose we view 'art' as, typically, a painting or sculpture, a photograph, or maybe a very epic movie or theatre piece or music. We can even appreciate musicians, actors, directors, photographers and so forth as artists. But what about other things, to which creativity is a must, do we see those things as art?

When a chef, for example, creates a dish, it's not just a bunch of random ingredients slopped together and thrown into a plate. A lot of work goes into a recipe. Colours, spices, food textures, among other things are all considered when putting a dish together. Even what audience it's going to be served to, what it'll be served with, and which bottle of wine will go perfect with that meal. And even expanding on this idea: do we appreciate the layout of the table that this meal is served on? Do we just view a table setting as just a table setting? Do we appreciate the details of the napkins, cutlery, napkin rings, serving dishes, and centerpieces? Isn't all that a creative artform unto itself?

We probably don't as much as we should. It's not a form of snobbery, but appreciating the planning into putting these seemingly every day items together. It takes planning, if you consider the time it takes to create, plan ahead, shop, cook and display each meal.

I think if we all took just a simple minute - a mere sixty seconds - out of our day to appreciate the art and creativity that surrounds us, we'd love the world we live in that much more.

Everything is art. Anything that requires a fiber of designing effort, is art. Buildings, bridges, roads, cars, meals, interior decorating, clothes (from designing through to picking outfits), hair styles, jewelry, books, websites, everything - it's all art.

Would the world be a better place if we took that single minute a day to appreciate the creativity that surrounds us? Would we complain less, fight less, criticise less, or even pollute less? Would we become less materialistic if we spent a few minutes appreciating the work that went into each thing we own, or that we receive?

Do we prefer store bought gifts or homemade ones, for example? How many of us felt disappointment at a handmade gift? Do we view them as 'cheap' because they weren't bought in a store? I've often (more often than I'd like to admit) invested hours into making gifts, to have them be received and fill the backs of closets for years before they're thrown away, never to be used for their intented purpose in the meantime.

I suppose, growing up without the latest gaming equipment or name-brand-anything, that I tend to value some of the smaller things in life. Even at my wedding, as far as gifts were concerned, what stood out more is the wedding gifts that were made for us like the bonbonieres (among other things) more so than the store-bought gifts. Five years later, I could barely remember who bought us what, but I remember who made us what. I still can't imagine the hours it took to put 100+ pieces together for bonbonieres, or the hours it took to make all the other gifts.

Appreciate the creative world around you, is all I'm trying to say. Just going to the store and buying something - as thoughtful as it may be - requires a lot less energy than it takes someone to actually make something. Please don't think that $200 or more for a handknit sweater is too expensive, rather consider their labour and not just their cost of materials.

If I consider all my hours of research, design, failure, redesign, and success, it's not surprising that it sometimes takes me a week to design a mere hat or gloves. I'm not even going to fathom the energy I'm currently investing in designing an original throw.

Revise how you see art. Remember the hours, sweat and tears it takes to create. And whatever you do, please don't call me crafty. :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

beading today!

I spent the day making stitch markers for sock knitters, using up a lot of my glass beads. Pictures and etsy listings to follow.

Monday, May 5, 2008

of sheep and paper

I've had a box of wool sitting in my home office now for at least 3 months, and I finally got around to dying about half of it last week:

Not that I spin, although I've tried my hand at it. Practice makes perfect, I know, but in the meantime, I'm a bit frustrated at how chunky and not-so-neat it turns out in the meantime. But the dying part of it is fun. And, of course, I keep forgetting to wear plastic gloves while I dye, so for the weekend I had purple fingers. Very gross, but I didn't mind.

I've also succumbed to collecting stamps again. Not for myself, but for others. I've an uncle who collects used stamps, although I'm not sure he does still any more. But, my MIL's brother does, and since she's going to Ireland next month to visit him, I thought I'd invest the next month or so to collect what I can for her, to give him. So far I've got stamps from the U.S. and Hong Kong. When I received my package of noro kureyon a while back, that envelope had Hong Kong stamps on it which I already gave her to send over, and she seemed very pleased with them. So, why not collect a few more? I figured that ones from Hong Kong may be harder to come across for her brother, so it'd be neat to have those to add to his collection.

Friday, May 2, 2008

stitch markers done

Over at the black yarn swap in kahoots with ravelry, a stitch marker swap was arranged. Sign ups ended yesterday, and first thing this morning, I assigned partners. About 10 or so signed up, which isn't bad considering that sign ups lasted only around 8 days! I premade my stitch markers yesterday, so I'll be mailing them out tomorrow to my partner.

I also spent today dying some wool. It's currently drying, but I'll take a pic of it next week when it gets posted on etsy. Or for sale via ravelry, I haven't decided just yet. But some great colours have come out of it!